Imagine working on a project with a colleague who always seems to challenge your ideas. Every meeting turns into a debate.
You're detail-oriented and meticulous; they're more about big-picture thinking and quick decisions. This clash in work styles leads to tension. They prefer fast-paced, last-minute work, which clashes with your need for structured planning.
It's a classic case of conflicting work styles, leading to frustration and misunderstandings.
- Mindful communication eases workplace conflict
- Assertiveness + mindfulness = clear, respectful dialogue
- Mindfulness views thoughts as transient, aiding peace
- Mindfulness isn't about silencing but directing attention
- Schedule talks mindfully for better conversation outcomes
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Mindfulness: A Solution from Dr Alice Shires
With this context in mind, the teachings of Dr Alice Shires, a psychologist at the University of Sydney, becomes particularly relevant.
Dr Shires spoke to MiTraining about how mindful communication could be the missing element in workplace conflict.
Mindful communication is about sharing your position or thoughts assertively whilst also being very balanced and non-reactive in your approach.
“Mindfulness isn't synonymous with relaxation. It's a strategy or mind training that facilitates an investigation into our objective reality,” Dr Shires says.
Transforming Thoughts into Clouds
Imagine thoughts as clouds in the sky, appearing and disappearing without defining the sky. This is how mindfulness teaches us to view our thoughts.
Such a view fosters a remarkable sense of inner peace and clarity, crucial for good communication at work.
Assertiveness isn’t about dominating conversations or suppressing others; it’s about clear, respectful communication. Mindfulness sharpens this skill.
Her approach combines the calmness of mindfulness with the clarity of assertive communication.
Mindfulness Myths Debunked
“The goal is not to eliminate thoughts but to train your mind to notice when studies have taken you away from your target—breathing through the nostrils—and bring your attention back,” Dr Shires clarifies.
Respecting Diverse Perspectives
In our interactions, mindfulness helps us recognise and respect that others may see things differently.
“In essence, acknowledging errors refers to the possibility that the other person may not share our perspective... It's just an acknowledgment that their viewpoint may differ from ours,” Dr Shires mentions.
This level of understanding and respect can dramatically transform our work conversations.
Preparing for Mindful Conversations
Before attempting a conversation that involves mindfully asserting ourselves, choose an appropriate time and place. This is because the context in which the conversation takes place can significantly impact its outcome.
It's often helpful to schedule a meeting or ask the other person when they would be available for a discussion. This ensures the other person is timely, focused, and relaxed, creating a conducive environment for a mutually positive meeting.
7 Steps to Mindful Communication
Here are seven main aspects of assertiveness that can guide you through an assertive conversation:
1. State the facts: Stick to the actual events or situations without exaggeration or assumptions. Facts are indisputable and provide a solid foundation for the conversation.
2. State how you feel: Use "I" statements to express your feelings without blaming the other person.
3. State what you think: Explain your thoughts and beliefs that led to your feelings. This helps you take responsibility for your emotions and avoids blaming the other person.
4. Acknowledge the other person: Acknowledge that you might be wrong and that the other person might have a different perspective. This prevents assumptions and promotes understanding.
5. State what you want: Be sure to be clear about what you want from the conversation. Remember, it's okay to ask for what you want, but it's also important to accept that the other person might not agree.
7. Negotiate a win-win solution: If there's no immediate cooperation, try to find a compromise that benefits both parties.
Mindfulness in Work Communication
In essence, Dr Alice Shires’ insights reveal that mindfulness is much more than a buzzword; it’s a concrete, practical tool for transforming how we communicate and assert ourselves.
We can navigate our daily interactions with greater clarity, respect, and effectiveness by viewing thoughts as transient and embracing a mindful approach to assertiveness.
You can learn from Dr Shires for free if you’d like to know more about this topic. Simply click here to access the recording from her most recent webinar.